Case assembly for the two versions is similar enough that a single set of steps and photos are shown. Pre-2017 kit uses a Pi Cobbler, newer kit has jumper wires, but otherwise similar.
Here’s the map of case parts again, as you may need to refer back to it some more:

Using “T-Slots”

The case is assembled using “t-slot” construction, common among laser-cut kits. You’ll notice a couple case parts (back and center support) have t-shaped slots along their edges. These slots hold nuts, while perpendicular case parts have holes for a corresponding machine screw.

Let’s start with the center support piece…that’s the part with four t-slots and a long tab that looks like a nose or something.

For the 2017 kit: this piece is asymmetrical…it has a specific right and left. Viewed from the front, the long tab is offset to the left.

For pre-2017 kits: this piece has no right or left…you can flip it around either way…but it definitely has a top and bottom.

Let’s start with one of the t-slots at the top. Insert a nut into the cross part of the “t” and hold it there between finger and thumb.

If holding the part and the nut simultaneously is a dexterity challenge, you can instead use a bit of tape to provide a temporary hold for the nut. This can be peeled away once the corresponding screw is in place.
We’ll attach this piece to one of the sides. The sides are interchangeable — there is no right or left — but they do have a definite top and bottom, front and back.

Insert the tab from the center support into the corresponding slot on a side piece — this is the off-center slot slightly towards the front. Make sure the tops and bottoms of the two pieces are oriented the same.

When properly aligned, insert a 1/2" #4-40 machine screw into the hole directly over the nut.
Use a screwdriver to turn the nut into place. Just “finger tight” is good for now…in subsequent steps we’ll be loosening certain screws anyway.

Never crank down hard on the case screws or you’ll break the acrylic.
Repeat the above step with the second nut and screw between these two case pieces.

Connect Back Piece

We’ll repeat some steps similar to the above, this time with the back piece. This is connected by wires to the thermal printer (and Cobbler board, on pre-2017 kits). Be very careful to always move these around as a unit…don’t tug on the wires else your solder joints (or the parts they’re connected to) may break.

Connect the same side piece to the case back, using two nuts and screws as before.

Make sure the tops of the two parts are aligned. In this picture the case is being held at an angle to access the slot…the top of the case faces the bottom-right.
You should now have four nuts and screws installed in one side piece, holding the back and center support.

The parts probably won’t be perfectly square at this stage. That’s perfectly okay…things will become progressively more aligned as the rest of the case goes together.

Stand the partial case up on its side and move the top piece (with button and thermal printer attached) roughly into position. Don’t fit this into the slots yet, just an approximate position.

Route the cables so that the button wires pass through the openings in the center support. For pre-2017 kits, position the T-Cobbler below the printer. You might need to turn some parts around or temporarily disconnect the cables from the printer to achieve a good fit.

Connect Second Side

This is why the printer isn’t slotted into place yet…it would block some t-slots that we still need access to. We’ll come back to it in a moment…

Scoot the printer out a bit so you can reach theremaining t-slots. Insert a nut into one of the slots, set the second side of the case into position and install a screw.

Repeat with the remaining three nuts and screws. You should now have a box with four sides and eight nuts & screws installed.

Slot one end of the top/printer piece into position. But with both sides in place, the slots at the other end are now blocked. The next few steps take care of all this…

Insert Case Top

Loosen two of the lower screws about 1/2 turn.

Loosen the corresponding two upper screws so the tip of the screw is flush with the face of the nut (but not so loose that it falls out…if this happens, move the top/printer piece out of the way and repeat the prior steps).
Lift the side of the edge piece. There should be just enough “play” for the tabs from the top piece to fit underneath. Press the printer piece into position.
Lower the side piece into place…slots should fit into corresponding tabs.

Tighten all four screws with a screwdriver. Just “finger tight” is sufficient for now…there’s a few more sequences like this ahead yet…

Install Front Piece

This sequence is very similar to the above…

Slot one end of the front piece into the side of the case. The “torn receipt” effect should be at the bottom. There’s no front or back to this piece, it can go either way, but Nimbus, our Internet of Things cloud mascot, wears his pompadour to the left.

Loosen the two screws at the back of the case 1/2 turn. Loosen the two front screws so the tip is flush with the nut.

Lift the side piece and pop the front into place.

Tighten all four screws using a screwdriver (finger-tight).

Install Bottom

Nearly done! The anticipation is deadly…

You probably know the routine by now: loosen two top screws by 1/2 turn and two bottom screws so the tip is flush with the nut.

The piece we’re inserting is a little different this time: rather than tabs and slots, there’s a small nubbin at either side that fits into a circular hole on each side of the case. This piece hangs open for now.

Tighten the four screws as before.

For the 2017-and-later kit, plug in the connections as shown here.

The end of the data cable with the trimmed plug should connect to the Pi. See how it makes space for the adjacent jumper wire?

For the pre-2017 kit: Gently install the Cobbler board on to the Raspberry Pi GPIO header. Support the Pi board from below with the tips of your fingers…this prevents strain on the board and the case.

Make sure all the pins are properly aligned with the header. If it’s off by one pin in any direction, there’s the possibility of damaging the board when the power supply is connected.

Re-insert the SD card and USB WiFi adapter.
Carefully fold all the wires while swinging the bottom shut like a door. The center support piece has just enough flex to act as a latch.

If you need access to the Raspberry Pi board later (to change out the SD card or connect a monitor for troubleshooting), you can unlatch and swing this open later…no need to dismantle the whole case.
Now you can go around the case and tighten each screw. Gently! Just finger pressure plus a fraction of a turn will hold it firmly. If you crank these down too hard you’ll crack the plastic.

Insert Paper and Connect Power

Pull up the top lever to access the paper compartment. Insert a roll of thermal receipt paper and push the lid closed while feeding the end of the paper through the slot.
Connect the 5V DC power supply to the jack on the back of the case.

Many power supplies look alike. Make absolutely certain you’re connecting the 5 Volt supply included with the kit! Anything more will likely kill the Raspberry Pi board.
If the printer starts dumping lots of random gibberish after power is connected, pop the printer lid open to stop it printing. The serial port has not been correctly configured. After the system has finished booting (about a minute), connect via SSH and repeat the steps in Raspberry Pi Setup: 2 of 3.

This guide was first published on Apr 12, 2013. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Case Assembly: 2 of 2) was last updated on Feb 20, 2013.

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